Summer Seva Season

We officially open our doors to summer sevaks starting April 1st until September 30th and is a great opportunity to have the experience of living and volunteering at the ashram. We need help on the farm, in the flower gardens, in the kitchen, on building projects and with general cleaning and maintenance. Accommodations are tent sites with bathroom and shower facilities and shared meals. No pets, drugs or alcohol.

Interested devotees should embrace the philosophy of selfless service and be ready to work hard in the service of Maharajji. Check out our website for more information. All sevaks start with a three-day trial period. If it is a good match, stay for a festival or for the whole summer!

CLICK HERE for more information on the seva program

To apply: Email Anandi, the ashram manager at manager@nkbashram.org

Land & Homes for Sale Near the Ashram

Several properties near the ashram have come up for sale.
Please see the listings below:

Unique opportunity to invest in community:

La Lomita Trailer Park, located just adjacent to the south-west corner of the ashram property with beautiful views of Taos Mountain and utility hook-ups for up to 38 units, has come up for sale.  Currently there are 28 units being rented in the trailer park and the other 10 sites could be developed into a tiny-home or yurt park for out-of-town or retired devotees or others who would like to live in a community of like-minded individuals close to the ashram.  The land could be improved with landscaping and gardens and has the potential to become a beautiful shared space to be lived in either full or part time.

See the listing for the trailer park

Land & Homes near the ashram:

This beautiful land could be used as a place to build a home.  Alternatively, it could be put under a Conservation Easement to preserve the peaceful and serene environment around the ashram for future generations.  With an Agricultural Conservation Easement, the ashram could use the land to expand farming and cow rearing efforts as the need to feed more people and become fully sustainable grows.  Conservation Easements and Agricultural Conservation Easements provide a variety of tax benefits.

See the listing for the adjacent land

Here is another listing for land on the other side of the ashram property which also has building, farming and conservation potential. 

Here is a listing for a home for sale near the ashram.

If you would be interested in collaborating with other devotees on the purchase of any of the above-mentioned properties or would like more information about donating land or land-use to the ashram please contact the ashram office at 575-751-4080.

Bed & Breakfast 

Many ashram visitors over the years have enjoyed staying at this B&B right across the street.  It is now for sale.  Check out the listing.

India’s Exotic Textiles

The Puja Dukan features…

India’s Exotic Textiles

As everyone who has made a pilgrimage to India knows, the experience can be like a swim in the sea of the senses-sights, smells, tastes and textures passing in waves over us as we float through holding our breath….  We are often humbled by the incredible craftsmanship and long hours of work involved in creating masterpieces to wear, offer and enjoy.

Join us on a little trip around the subcontinent as we explore some of the textiles of India available in the Puja Dukan.

Lucknow Chikan

   

Chikan Kirtas – 4 colors     Chikan Salwar Kameez      Ladies White Kurta

Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow in North India.  There are references to Indian chikan work as early as the 3rd century BC by Megasthenes, who mentioned the use of flowered muslins by Indians.  There are several tales about the origin of chikan work in Lucknow-it is said to have been introduced by Nur Jehan, the wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir; there is also a tale of a traveler teaching chikan to a peasant in return for a drink of water.

The technique of creation of a chikan work is known as chikankari.  White thread is delicately embroidered on white or cool pastel shades of light muslin or cotton garments.  In order for the embroidery needle to pierce it, the fabric cannot be too thick or hard.
The first step in Chikankari is to block-print a pattern onto the fabric.  The pattern is then stitched over and the finished piece is carefully washed to remove all traces of the printing.

Front view of Chikan embroidery being done over temporary block printed pattern
& Chikan embroidery from the back

 

Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow in North India.  There are references to Indian chikan work as early as the 3rd century BC by Megasthenes, who mentioned the use of flowered muslins by Indians.  There are several tales about the origin of chikan work in Lucknow-it is

The patterns and effects created depend on the stitches and the thicknesses of the threads used.

There are 32 types of chikan stitches. Below are the names and descriptions of a few:

•    Tepchi is a long running or darning stitch worked with six strands on the right side of the fabric taken over four threads and picking up one. Thus, a line is formed. It is used principally as a basis for further stitchery and occasionally to form a simple shape.
•    Bakhiya or ‘Shadow work’ is so named because that the embroidery is done on the wrong side and we see its shadow on the right side.
•    Hool is a fine detached eyelet stitch. A hole is punched in the fabric and the threads are teased apart. It is then held by small straight stitches all around and worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric. It can be worked with six threads and often forms the center of a flower.
•    Murri is the form of stitch used to embroider the centre of the flowers in chikan work motifs. They are typically French knots that are rice-shaped. Murri is the oldest and most sought-after form of chikankari. The use of this stitch is depleting due to a decrease in the artisans doing this embroidery.
•    Jali stitch is one where the thread is never drawn through the fabric, ensuring that the back portion of the garment looks as impeccable as the front. The warp and weft threads are carefully drawn apart and minute buttonhole stitches are inserted into the cloth.


Block Printing

Block printing is a very popular technique in northern and western India.  Any number of items can be block printed and one finds block printed saris, kurtas, bedsheets, scarves and other household and clothing pieces.

Check out this great video about block printing in Rajasthan:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-qLUPW4KfI

Here is another video about the block printing process and the block printing industry:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZdnAz2Il20

Block printed dupattas at the Puja Dukan


Torans

A torana (Sanskrit) or toran (Hindi) is a type of gateway seen in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain architecture of India and other parts of East and Southeast Asia.

Both Chinese paifang gateways and Japanese torii gateways are derived from the Indian torana.  The functions of all three are similar, but they differ in their respective architectural styles.

In the Kalinga architecture of Orissa in eastern India we can see the torana in many temples built from the 7th to 12th centuries. The Jagannath Temple at Puri and the Rajarani and  Mukteswar temples in Bhubaneswar are exquisite examples.

Related Styles of Toranas

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torana

A toran is also the name for a hand-embroidered and embellished door hanging, traditionally made in Gujarat, on the coast of Northwestern India.  It is easy to see the connection between the embroidery of the fabric hangings and the detailed stone carvings, as well as in their function to welcome both the gods and people. Decorative torans also play a role in holidays like Diwali and Holi or at weddings and celebrations as they are believed to be auspicious and lucky. The doorway blesses every person that walks under it, showering them with an abundance of love, prosperity, health and happiness. While the heavily embroidered ones tend to be regional to Gujarat, torans in other forms are popular throughout India. In the south, green mango tree leaves are threaded together and hung across the door. In Northern India, marigold flowers are strung together and used the same way. The small flaps that hang from the fabric versions are meant to represent dangling leaves and flowers.

Fabric torans can be made from different materials and in in different styles with different motifs, depending on their region of origin.  Several types are pictured below:

Beadwork

While glass beads are used today in necklaces and bangles in many parts of India, glass seed beads seem to have been introduced only after 1700 and only in one small area – the Kingdom of Saurashtra in what is today southern Gujarat.

The shapes and forms of the beadwork echo those used in the embroidered and appliquéd torans made in the area.  The beadwork displays motifs of animals, people, gods, flowers and trees, usually scattered on a white background.

Several unique beaded torans and a type of wall hanging called a chakla are all available at the Puja Dukan:

Beaded Torans from Kutch

Krishna Beaded Toran

Ganesh Beaded Toran

Beaded Chakla


Embroidery and Mirror Work

Hand-embroidered bags from Rajasthan

 

                        Rajasthani Bag                                Mirror Work Purse

Abhla Bharat or Shisheh Embroidery (Mirror Work)

Shisheh embroidery was introduced from Muslim lands during the Mughal Empire in the 17th centurey.  However shisheh embroidery was not used on Mughal clothing but rather found only on traditional folk clothes of South and Central Asia. The term shisheh means glass in Persian, from where the word transferred to Urdu/Hindi and other related languages.

Traditionally, shisheh or abhla bharat work was done using mica but beetle, tin, silver or coins were not uncommon depending on the region. This was replaced by glass blown into large thin bubbles and broken into small pieces for this use which is why traditional shisheh mirrors have a convex curve. The tradition of making circular shisheh was extensively done by women in South Asia, who use special scissors that are repeatedly dampened to prevent flying shards.  The small mirrors are held in place by a framework of overlaid embroidery stitches.  No glue is used and the mirror is not threaded through or attached in any other way.   While many of the other decorative stitches, such as the chain stitch, are universal, shisheh work is unique to the Indian subcontinent. Women are solely responsible for these creations and motifs and patterns are not copied or written down, but instead passed along orally.

Among Hindus, Muslims and Jains in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana it is believed that the mirrors have the power to ward off evil spirits by trapping or confusing the evil eye.  Shisheh toranas are often hung over doorways for protection for that reason.

Shisheh Belts

Long Tribal Belt

Short Tribal Belt

Kathi Embroidery

Kathi Toran

Kathi embroidery also hails from the state of Gujarat and is another vibrant style.

These gorgeous pieces beautify the simple village surroundings of the Kathi people.  The woman create any number of different types of embroidered items including door panels, door hangings, seat covers, baby crib covers, items of clothing like the “ghagra” a traditionsl women’s skirt, canopies and decorations for camels, cows, bullocks and carts.  Taking inspiration from their surroundings, the women choose themes for their embroidery from everyday life like peacocks, parrots, elephants, camels, flowering plants, women filling water, women churning butter, wedding processions, folk dances like the Raas Lila and hunting scenes as well as Hindu gods like Ganesh, Surya (the sun), Radha Krishna and even Hanuman!

The embroidery is done with Silk floss called Heer in bold colours.  Purple, magenta, electric blue, parrot green, lemon yellow, golden yellow and red fill the large areas while white or black are sometimes used to add an outline in  motifs.

Two predominant design styles are geometric patterns such as the eight pointed star and boxed panels filled with embroidery and the motifs are drawn free-hand usually depicting flora, fauna and human figures.


Rabari Embroidery

There are distinct different variations in Rabari embroidery across the different Rabari sub groups. The three groups in Kutch are the Kutchi, Dhebaria and Vagharia. All trace their ancestry to the mythical Sambal, created by Lord Shiva to look after camels. Rabaris in Northwest India migrated from the Thar desert in Rajasthan in search of good camel grazing lands.  Embroidery is an important part of a Rabari woman’s life, evident in the unwavering work put into her embroidery on a daily basis and visible in various garments such as the choli or blouse, shawl and skirt, most elaborately embroidered for ceremonial wear at important functions like weddings. Mirrors are used in various shapes and sizes and abstracted forms of scorpions, peacocks and parrots as well as flowers and geometric patterns are embroidered in chain stitch and accent stitches in bold colours. Back stitch bakhiya is also used to decorate the seams of women’s blouses and men’s kediyun jackets.

Traditionally, Rabari women practiced embroidery as an integrated part of their nomadic existence. Embroidery was an affordable aesthetic expression of community, sub-community and status within that community. Embroidery was portable, created wealth. A woman adorned herself and her household with her own efforts, utilizing time between more essential chores. The glittering pieces that a girl embroidered for her dowry were considered a contribution to the marriage exchange. Women worked as artists, without thought of time, concentrating on making the most beautiful contributions they could, knowing that their work would be appreciated by community members who shared their aesthetics and values. Not only would Rabaris not think of dowry pieces and personal adornment in terms of commercial value; they feared showing them lest outsiders would try to purchase them.

Now Rabari embroidery pieces are available for sale and Rabari women are earning wages from their art.  These unique pieces remind us to take time to integrate beauty and aesthetics into our daily lives.

Toran from the Rabari tribe in Kutch, Gujarat

Rabari Toran


Sources:

http://www.tribalartbrokers.net/mybeadyeye/index.php/beadwork-from-the-indian-kingdom-of-saurasthra/
http://travelsintextiles.com/kutchi-embroidery/
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1385&context=tsaconf
http://kalaabhushan.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-beauty-of-indian-embroidery-kathi.html
http://www.clothandkind.com/journal-archive/provenance-toran
http://www.novahaat.com/valances-and-toppers/window-topper-peacock-embroidered-indian-doorway-gate-toran-gujarat/
http://www.discoveredindia.com/andhra-pradesh/culture-in-andhra-pradesh/handicrafts-art-and-craft-in-andhra-pradesh/banjara-embroidery.htm
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toran
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chikan_(embroidery)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shisha_(embroidery)

Winter Farm Video Tour

Join us for a tour of the winter farm. This is the first in a series of seasonal farm walks where we talk about the ways that we experience the land in the different seasons. In this first walk of the year we discuss some of the projects and visions for 2017 and get acquainted with the lay of the land.

NOW ACCEPTING FARM SEVA
APPLICANTS FOR SPRING & SUMMER 2017!
Email: jessehar@gmail.com

To learn more about our permaculture farm, visit: http://nkbashram.org/ashram/babas-permaculture-farm/

Feed Everyone: Part Two

“Wherever Baba turns his face, the universe also turns.”
-Shravan Nath Sang, “The Divine Reality”


At Maharaj-ji’s Kainchi Ashram there is a farm just down the valley run by the ashram.  It provides many of the fruits and vegetables used to prepare the Prasad offered to Maharaj-ji and the deities in the temples.  Crossing the river into the farm, visitors are greeted by the sight of rows of neatly growing vegetables.  Nestled in an orchard shaded by fragrant fruit trees, a small Hanuman murti blesses the spot.

Inspired by the example of the farm at Kainchi and by the desire to move towards sustainability, Baba’s ashram in Taos began expanding our small vegetable garden and modest young orchard in 2008.  Today, we have a dairy cow, a growing fruit orchard, several bee hives, a perennial medicinal herb garden and about an acre of cultivated land used for growing annual herbs, vegetables and flowers.


For more information about Hanuman’s Garden, Baba’s Permaculture Farm, please visit the farm page

Many people have served Maharaj-ji by serving his land in Taos.  The overwhelming response to being a part of this relationship is that it has been incredibly rewarding.  Sevaks comment that there is a deep and subtle beauty experienced when connecting and serving in the plant and animal kingdoms.

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICANTS FOR FARM SEVA

for Spring & Summer 2017.

If you are interested in participating in the ashram farm seva program, please contact Jesse, our Farm Manager, at jessehar@gmail.com or Anandi, Ashram General Manager, at anandi_manager@nkbashram.org.

For those who don’t have the opportunity to garden or who can’t come and serve at the ashram farm, there are also lots of ways to support others who are growing food in your community.

Here are a few resources:

Find out more about how to eat locally and develop relationships with local farmers and other food producers:
www.localharvest.org
Find a local farmer’s market:
www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets
http://nfmd.org/
Apply for a grant to start a business promoting locally grown food or expand on a current business:
www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/lfpp
Don’t have a convenient source of locally grown food in your community?

Find out how to start your own community marketplace and connect local food providers with consumers:
http://www.farmersmarket.com/#localhost